Tuesday, December 1, 2009

harry potter and the half-blood prince

Otherwise known as Ron Weasley and the Incidental Other Characters due to my fierce adoration for Rupert Grint, this, the newest and penultimate-book-yet-third-last-movie is now out on DVD. Praise be! We now have all six movies on DVD, lined up in a neat row with unmatching covers, much to my anal-retentive horror. I’m sure in a few years when all of the movies are out there will be some luscious boxed set that I will be forever coveting but unable to bring myself to buy.

To be upfront about it: I really enjoyed this movie. It’s quite long, and because most of the movie seems to think it’s a comedy the last twenty minutes appear to be a completely different, much more depressing film. Most of you know how it ends, and in a shocking piece of news, I didn’t cry (but then, I knew it was going to happen and have read the final book with the character’s short, er, return, too.)

The movie begins with Harry reluctantly leaving a potential new love with a beautiful young girl to return to Hogwarts. The next two hours are taken up mostly with relationship laughs, as Harry and Ginny are thwarted by the handsome Dean (and Ginny’s newfound few inches on Harry), and the series’ will-they-won’t-they is hindered by hilarious groper Cormac’s lust for Hermione and the nauseating Lavender’s fixation on Ron. Clearly I’m biased, but this really is a Ron-heavy film, with him sweeping me off my feet with lines like: “The Sorting Hat urged us all to be brave and strong in these troubled times. Easy for it to say, though. It’s a hat, innit?” Or when they’re spying on Draco Malfoy in Borgin and Burke’s and Harry wonders why Malfoy would be there, to get the reply from Ron: “It’s a creepy shop; he’s a creepy bloke.” Stick him with his two equally hotter-than-chips brothers and you get one of my favourite scenes, when Harry, Ron and Hermione are in Fred and George’s stunning magic shop, as he asks his brothers: “How much is this?” “Five galleons.” “How much for me?” “Five galleons.” “I’m your brother!” “Ten galleons.”

More hijinks follow, with Ron being the unwitting recipient of a love potion, Harry beaming his way through a scene involving a whole lot of luck and the death of a character nobody will miss, and Hermione avoiding the affections of a deluded Cormac, whose seductive eating of an ice-cream at Professor Slughorn’s party is one of the funnier parts of the movie.

Speaking of Slughorn, I feel I must mention here that there is a very creepy underlying part to this movie. Slughorn, played by the ever-roundy Jim Broadbent, is a new addition; Dumbledore explains to Harry how Slughorn likes to “collect” talented or famous students. Slughorn, however, knows more about the young Tom Riddle than he lets on. The only way to find this out is for Harry to become close to him, and in a slimy scene, Harry asks Dumbledore, “You said Professor Slughorn will try to collect me.” Dumbledore says, “I did,” and Harry asks, “Do you want me to let him?” Dumbledore replies, in a low voice, “Yes.” And the audience shudders. Later, after helping Ron out with a potion, Slughorn gives he and Harry a “pick-me-up” in his chambers in the form of mead—clearly in the wizarding world serving alcohol to students is completely kosher and not at all a giant red flag.

On the shallow side, while the boys don’t all have the glorious long locks they did in the fourth movie, I at least appreciate Snape’s new feathery ’do, which makes him look slightly less greasy. I adore Draco Malfoy’s new emo look, replete with dark, well-cut suits, hysterical sobbing and a permanent look of angst. There are a few characters who I wished to see more of: Hagrid is only in it for about two minutes, apart from lurking in the background of a few scenes; the divine Neville Longbottom does not get the time he deserves up the front; and the absolutely gorgeous Luna Lovegood needs a much bigger part than she currently gets, with the actor playing her perfectly as a girl who is tormented by everyone but always comes through unscathed. When Luna discovers an injured and hidden Harry in the train at the beginning of the film, he apologises for their delay and they have the following heartbreaking exchange: “Sorry I made you miss the carriages, by the way, Luna.” “That’s all right. It was like being with a friend.” “Oh, I am your friend, Luna!” “That’s nice.” Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort is not in it at all—you only see the Dark Lord in a couple of flashbacks as a young, truly creepy Tom Riddle.

Whoever was in charge of CGI must have recently purchased the program How To Make a Swirly Ink Effect because it’s a vastly used image in this film, which is fine. As usual, the effects are flawless and gorgeous, though not heavily required in this movie until the final dramatic scenes, where Harry and Dumbledore are questing in dangerous and inky places for something important and deadly to Voldemort. The best, which I’ve already mentioned, is George and Fred’s magic shop; much like the Troll Market in Hellboy II The Golden Army, it just took you into the kind of beautiful otherworldly place that really made you believe in magic and monsters. The first Harry Potter movie had scenes like this in spades, and I miss them.

I’m desperate for the seventh and eighth movies to come out; I have my tissues ready for all the carnage and am hoping for more jokes than I remember being in the book. I also don’t understand why they’re bothering to split a book with an utterly dull middle into two, but that’s a vent for when the next movie comes out, hey?


  1. Did you watch the bonus material. It was interest as to how much effort goes into some of the scenes and how much of it is supposedly real, rather than CGI. It is also weird seeing Tom Felton laugh and smile - kind of off-putting actually.


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